Kigosi was established a National Park in 2019. It is 8265 km² in area and is part of the Moyowosi / Malagarasi wetlands complex which is the largest in East Africa. In fact, it is part of a vast shallow basin drained by 7 slow moving rivers, the Malagarasi, Moyowosi, Nikonga, Ugalla, Kigosi, Nikonga and Gombe (not to be confused with Gombe Stream where the chimps live) that wind sinuous paths through an immense and complicated network of swamps, plains lakes and woodlands. These rivers eventually join up into the Malagarasi River which empties into Lake Tanganyika at Ilagala. The whole system is more than 92,000 sq. km.in area which makes it larger than the whole of Portugal! It has been estimated that it supplies almost 30% of Lake Tanganyika’s fresh water.
The whole area has been designated a wetland of international importance (Ramsar site) Kigosi National Park is at the north east of the complex where shallow undulating Miombo woodlands are drained by the Nikonga River as it joins the complexities of the Moyowosi wetlands.
This is all challenging terrain and has ensured that large parts have hardly ever been visited or explored, and being Africa is endowed with an extravagant quantity and quality of wildlife. It is home to Africa’s largest populations of that rare and somewhat sinister stork, the shoebill, as well as the tall and elegant wattled crane. There are huge flocks of pygmy geese (probably Africa’s largest). The Moyowosi wetlands also have Africa’s largest populations of Cape clawless otters. Big game abounds – Lion, leopard, buffalo, crocodile, topi, Lichtenstein’s hartebeest, sitatunga, warthog, baboon, zebra, sable, roan, eland, bushbuck, oribi, common and Bohor reedbuck, hyena, hippo and Defassa waterbuck.
The terrain is fascinating. Miombo woodlands fringe grassy flood plains dotted with palm trees that surrounding huge lakes and swamps many of which carry floating palm and papyrus islands. The water is gin clear. Many of the lion prides here have learned to chase buffalo into shallow swamps and to kill them by drowning before dragging them out to dismember and eat.
When to go
Kigosi can be visited at all times of year except that during the rains in November – December and March – April activities will be based mostly around boating on the swamps.
Activities are game viewing by vehicle in the woodlands and plains, while the lakes and swamps are best enjoyed in shallow draft inflatables and punt style boats.
Walking safaris are also possible.
Access is best by private charter to bush airstrips, although access by road is also possible.